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Riyadh: A Muted Reception

It's now late afternoon in Riyadh, the capital. Thousands of miles away, Americans are already gathering on the National Mall as dawn breaks in Washington. But here, Obama's inauguration is not generating much public excitement.

None of this morning's Arabic newspapers noted the inauguration on their front pages. A couple had short stories inside, noting that Obama had pledged to remove U.S. troops from Iraq. Another ran a piece suggesting Obama  will only be different in “Packaging” and “Style" from his predecessor.

Only one, Okaz, noted that history was being made today in Washington.

To be sure, some Saudis are quite happy and hopeful about Obama. Almost all are grateful that the Bush administration is over because they see it as having been disastrous for the Middle East. But for the most part, any revelry that might happen will be in private living rooms when families gather around their TV sets at 8 pm local time for Obama's noon swearing-in.

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